Wednesday, January 18, 2006

What A State We’re In

Read these articles on the Golden Globes and prostitution and you’ll see where I’m coming from.

On Saturday, I was talking to the wife about this particular movie. Now, the wife comes from a Jamaican background that would not be deemed to be liberal in their approach to sexuality, and so to find the success of such a movie was surprising. It is a sign of the openness of Hollywood in particular that such a film can be made and garner such critical acclaim and the blessing of their peers. You may recall in an earlier post how I suggested that with the civil partnership deal between homosexuals and such like, it stirs up the old hostilities and negative feelings from the Christian community. Then we split off into the usual extremes of either saying it’s OK cos God is love and this is just love, or that these people are going to hell and should experience some of it now.

I don’t particularly want to engage in that argument, but what I do want to point out is an interesting feature I’ve found in British thinking. I remember talking to one person about their faith. The friend said he was a Christian, but he didn’t feel he needed to impose it on anyone. I understand what he means. The US model of fundamentalist Christianity comes across as too imposing for the more modest British consumer. If there’s one thing people here don’t like it’s having views IMPOSED on them. Fair enough. What’s interesting, however, is how we live in a society where views and beliefs are constantly being imposed on us. The issue is how it’s imposed. From the beginning things are imposed on us, whether it’s parents, teachers, friends, the media or whatever. We’re constantly susceptible to the views, opinions and beliefs of others and at any given occasion when we’re amenable and it appears appealing, we’re likely to accept that which has been imposed. What’s intriguing about Christianity in this sense is that my understanding of true followers of Christ necessitates the imposition of our beliefs – because we are the embodiment of that belief. The acceptance of a friendship with a Christian would involve being open to receiving (for that’s in essence what imposition requires) the views, beliefs and values that Christianity entails. The deal is, however, the imposing isn’t done in a negative, overbearing, obvious, manipulative and intimidating manner – which is where I believe my mate was coming from.

Having said all of that, such is the reservation of coming across as a lunatic as a Christian that it leads to hiding light under a bushel and seeing being a Christian as a suit that’s worn on Sundays and taken off at work or at the pub or wherever. This is the sad thing, because in the light of these social developments there is a compassionate Christian response. There is a relevant Christ-like alternative to these issues that doesn’t involve condemnation or a sneering holier-than-thou attitude. There is actually a response that deals effectively with the problem and builds people at the same time. A typical example is one which we studied last weekend. When you look at the treatment of the Woman at the Well in the Gospel of John (Chapter 4) and see how Jesus gave the woman a life-changing experience, that’s the kind of witness and character that we as Christians are called to shine for the world to see. Now that’s not to say that it will be readily accepted – we live in cynical society as well as a sin-ical society that partly doesn’t want to actually address the deep issues that causes its distress and problems. In fact let’s face it, some people actually love the very thing that causes the problem and there is no strong desire to hate that which is evil. This is symptomatic in the nature of the social developments that are taking place. But don’t take my word for it. Ask yourself the question, when was the last time you experienced a policy, idea, programme or major event that actually promoted something pure and constructive for a better life. Now compare that with everything else you’ve experience this week – I challenge you to actually see if there is more of this last stuff than there is of the first.

101 Ways To Publish A Decent Autobiography
No. 8 – Make It Interesting

Ryan Giggs is known in the football world for his speed and dribbling skills. As I mentioned in a previous entry, I have a great deal of admiration for the guy’s longevity. I also admire his loyalty to one club. I’m struggling to remember the last guy to stay with one top flight successful club for so long. Alan Hansen was at Liverpool for 13 years, which was impressive. I think Phil Neal was at the club for roughly that length of time as well. Tony Adams served Arsenal faithfully for well over a decade if my memory serves me correctly. Yet for accumulation of awards and loyalty Ryan Giggs has to be up there with the very best.

He is also still playing for that same club, so it came as little surprise that his autobiography was relatively guarded in terms of really expressing what was what. Indeed the book came across rather guarded as a whole. I think it’s partly to do with the fact that he’s young in social terms. In any case, like the man himself, the reading of the book was relatively quick. It was going over what’s happened in his career interspersed nicely with insights into his family life. Now there shouldn’t be too much complaint about that, after all that’s what you expect from an autobiography – what happened in your life. The issue is however, the way you relate what happened is important – not just to get a look at what happened but the deeper processes of thought and feeling behind it, the fascinating life and the interest in the person who lived it should come out in the book. Sadly, all that comes out of this book is a pretty ordinary story of a pretty ordinary bloke who got to do something he loves and reached the highest heights doing it, whilst still remaining pretty ordinary. Nothing wrong in that, except that it doesn’t make for a wildly interesting autobiography. Thankfully, because of exactly what he’s achieved in his career there’s enough to keep this book interesting.

It’s interesting comparing this book to Malcolm Macdonald’s one. On the one hand Giggs has won the lot and so has got a lot to say on that score. On the other hand Macdonald is outspoken (shouldn’t that be out-written?) as to the nothing that he achieved in his career. If these two styles were to come together then you’d have yourself a fascinating autobiography. Indeed when it comes to a fascinating autobiography the standard – especially in the world of sport – remains Tony Adams’ one which was brilliant. It wasn’t just how candid he was with some well documented personal issues; it was the whole structure of the book. It took me inside Tony Adams and Tony Adams was an interesting guy to know. My perception of him had been of a lumbering thug of a player from the British Bulldog Brigade, but this book allowed me to know that this guy had a heart, had feelings, had thoughts, was human and fascinating with it. Maybe it’s a reflection on the lives of others that allows them to produce the autobiographies that they do.

Now I know you’ve been waiting patiently for the Friends of the Year 2005 rundown and my list of things to do in 2006. Thanks for waiting … and you’ll have to wait just a bit longer. I can tell you that the Friends of the Year list should be out by the end of this week! There, you can start to breathe again after faithfully passing out by holding it. Until then however, that will do it for another entry.

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